Note: Nancy Atkinson is at Kennedy Space Center to cover SDO and the STS-130 shuttle mission
Scrub! High winds kept the Solar Dynamics Observatory on the ground for today, but the launch team will try again Thursday (Feb. 11) at 10:26 a.m. EST (15:26 GMT). Weather is 60% go for tomorrow, and winds will be down to about 16 knots but cloud cover may be an issue. Today, winds consistently peaked well above the constraint speed of 20 knots – often well into the 30’s. The winds here at the press site were equally strong, and combined with cool weather, kept most people indoors until the launch team gave the go-ahead.
Winds were predicted to decrease later in the day, so the launch team pushed back the countdown as far into the launch window as possible. Originally slated for a 10:26 a.m. EST launch, they first moved it ahead 30 minutes to 10:56, and then to 11:26, leaving just the built-in hold at T-4 minutes in the countdown, — and more importantly, leaving only four minutes for a possible attempt. The count was able to pick up when the weather officer gave the go-ahead, but as soon as the countdown restarted, the count was automatically stopped because the wind loads had risen again.
The scrub was a disappointment for the SDO team, which has had repeated delays in their timeline leading up to launch. But now SDO and the Atlas V rocket can launch any day that the weather allows, so we’ll be back again tomorrow for another try!
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You can follow my updates on Twitter (@Nancy_A) for live, real-time updates. I’ll also be reporting live Thursday morning on AstronomyFM, a 24-hour internet radio dedicated to astronomy and space exploration.